Former Walmart exec, Royals owner David Glass dies at 84

KANSAS CITY, Mo (AP) — Former Walmart Inc chief executive David Glass, who owned the Kansas City Royals for nearly two decades before selling the franchise last fall, died last week of complications from pneumonia. He was 84.

The Glass family said the businessman died on January 9. He had been dealing with health issues for some time.

Glass began negotiations early last year to sell the Royals, who reached the World Series twice under his ownership and won the title in 2015. The deal valued at about USD1 billion with a group led by Kansas City businessman John Sherman was completed last November 26 after Major League Baseball owners voted unanimously to approve it.

“I am deeply saddened by the news of David’s passing,” Sherman said in a statement. “His voice among other owners was so respected. He served on and led several Major League Baseball committees to better our game. His passion for baseball and love for Kansas City was the driving force in bringing success on the field for this franchise.

“Personally, I will be forever indebted to David for reaching out to offer the generational opportunity to be part of this proud and storied franchise,” Sherman added. “On behalf of the entire ownership group, I want to express deepest gratitude to the heart of a man who carefully placed a treasure in the hands of Kansas Citians. We pledge to carry it forward with his passionate commitment and selfless spirit.”

File photo shows Kansas City Royals owner David Glass, (R) and manager Ned Yost celebrating after Game 5 of the Major League Baseball World Series against the New York Mets in New York. PHOTO: AP

Glass was born in Mountain, View, Missouri, and joined the US Army after he was graduated from high school. He earned a degree from Missouri State before beginning his business career at Crank Drug Company in 1960.

Glass left the company in 1968 and worked for two other companies until 1976, when Walmart founder Sam Walter recruited him to be his company’s Chief Financial Officer. Glass continued to take on a bigger role with the company until 1988, when he was named president and CEO of the retail giant. Over the ensuing 12 years, he led the company through a period of dramatic growth and expansions internationally and into new retail formats.

“When we lost my dad, David provided a steady, visionary hand the company needed to lead it forward. He did so with a deep sense of humility while maintaining the values and principles dad founded the company on,” former Walmart chairman Rob Walton said.

“More than anyone beyond Sam Walton, David Glass is responsible for making Walmart the company it is today. On behalf of the entire Walton family, I want to express our appreciation for David as a leader and as a friend. He will be deeply missed.”

He also will be missed in Kansas City, his home-away-from home due to his ownership of the Royals.

Glass helped to keep the franchise in Kansas City following the death of founding owner Ewing Kauffman in 1993. He served as caretaker of the organisation until April 2000, when he purchased sole ownership for USD96 million — a strong bid at the time. And while his ownership will be remembered for two American League pennants and a World Series trophy, for many years he was considered a pariah among fans for his notoriously frugal ways.

The Royals endured many 100-loss seasons, and they became known for trading top talent while refusing to sign notable free agents. Many fans also viewed him as an absentee owner more committed to Arkansas than Kansas City.

But most of those opinions changed when Glass hired Dayton Moore as general manager in 2006. Glass vowed to build the organisation the right way, and he gave Moore the resources and responsibility to accomplish that objective.

“When I sat down across the table from Mr Glass, as he began to share his vision for the Kansas City Royals, it was all about wanting to create a model organisation,” Moore said Friday.

“It was all about putting a competitive team on the field for our fans and our city. I came to understand he owned a baseball team for all the right reasons. It wasn’t about him as an owner, it was about being a great steward of the franchise and preserving the great game he enjoyed as a little boy.”